Over the last two weeks we tried a lot of different games, activities, and crafts - some worked better than others. I'm starting with hopscotch not because it was my favorite (those are yet to come) but because it is the only activity I actually got pictures of (since I wasn't planning to blog about them when we did them). Although it wasn't my favorite, it definitely worked well and we will do this again in my home. Being the mother of only one child, this is a great game as it can be played alone or with many children.
This game would work well for school age children as well, but I used it for preschoolers and found that even though they didn't completely get the concept of the game, it was great practice in gross motor skills (i.e. hopping, throwing with accuracy, balance, etc.) and it also works on number recognition (up to 9). In any event, getting preschoolers up, hopping, and throwing when it's rainy outside is a good thing and they enjoyed it.
Objects (toys, coasters, sticks, etc.) to use for "markers"
You could also use masking tape - I just happened to have painter's tape laying around and I like it because it comes in fun colors and it's made to be removed.
For the objects (used for markers), try to avoid balls or toys that roll easily as it could become pretty frustrating especially for younger children who will find it a challenge just to land their marker in the correct space.
I made my hopscotch board on our rug, but it could be done on wood, ceramic, vinyl, laminate, etc. if you use painter's tape as it will come up pretty easily. If you have an unfinished basement, you could even go the classic outdoor route and make it with chalk on your cement floor - and clean it up with a bucket of water and a large sponge when you want to remove the game board.
I made numbers in each space which took a little time, but I wanted to work on number recognition with the kids. You could certainly leave the spaces empty if you don't want to take the time. You could also tape a piece of colored construction paper in each space or use different shapes or letters to tailor the "lesson" to your child's level.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the rules of hopscotch, here's how we played:
Start by trying to throw your "marker" (we used small toys and coasters) into the first space. If you land your marker on the correct space, you may hop your way to the end and back - avoiding the space containing your marker. One foot on 2 (since your marker is on 1), one foot on 3, two feet down at 4 & 5, one foot on 6, two feet down on 7 & 8, one foot on 9, turn around, go back.
When you get to your marker, bend down, pick it up, and hop to the end.
If you complete this "level" successfully, you may go on...now you try to land your marker in the second space and so on. The child's turn continues until they miss the space they are trying to land in.
For older children you may want to end their turn if they accidentally put two feet down on a one foot space or if they forget to pick up their marker on their return to the start, etc. to keep the game moving.
With preschoolers, I only ended their turn when they missed the space they were aiming for.
The only thing that changes with the second player is that they avoid both the space their marker is on and the space the other player's marker is on.
Winner is the first one to get their marker all the way to the ninth space.
As the players move beyond the first few spaces, they may try walking up to the space they are trying to land in. Our rules were that they had to remain behind the line at the bottom of the hopscotch board for all throws.
I played this game with three kids ages: 2 1/2, 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 - the 2 1/2 year old had very loose rules and just enjoyed running up and down the board, the 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 played by the rules and were able to complete the game successfully. And in the short time we played, I saw one child's hopping/balancing skills improve!
I hope you enjoy pulling out this classic in your home. If you try this with your children and make a variation I haven't thought of or find some helpful tips, please share them with the rest of us - we would love to hear from you!